How To Throw A Forkball
By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
Every baseball pitcher is always looking for another effective pitch to add to their repertoire. Having command of a second, third, or even fourth pitch can help a pitcher keep the hitters off balanced and give them an extra edge out on the mound.
The forkball is an advanced pitch that when thrown properly, can be very effective against even the best hitters. Since the forkball is an advanced pitch, it must be thrown with caution. It is advisable to not throw the forkball until your arm is fully developed, usually not until the age of 17 or 18.
The forkball is a very unique pitch. It rotates very slowly, and you can usually see the laces as it comes towards you. The slight forward spin allows for a sharp and sudden drop at the end of the pitch. The best way to describe this movement is a tumbling motion.
To grip the forkball, split your index and middle fingers apart and place the baseball between them. These fingers should split the ball, similar to a split finger, but with the ball tucked back into the palm more. Because of the strange grip, it helps to have big hands and long fingers.
Throwing the forkball is similar to throwing a fastball. Using your normal mechanics and arm speed. The only difference is as you release the ball, snap your wrist downwards to generate a slight forward spin. This forward spin is what causes the ball to tumble.
The forkball can either be thrown hard like a fastball, or slow like an off speed pitch. Either one is effective, and is up to you how you want to throw it. Some pitchers prefer throwing it hard, and others like to use it as an off speed.
Be sure to master the fastball before trying the forkball or any other advanced pitch. An extra pitch does no good if you have no command of the fastball. The forkball takes a lot of time and practice to be able to throw effectively, so be sure to practice with it while warming up and in bullpen sessions.
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